Aug 302004
Authors: Alicia Leonardi

Preparing to spend next semester in Montreal feels like a

slightly more intense version of freshman year. Although my

circumstances are different, the bittersweet goodbyes and

anticipation for future are the same.

Back in 2001, I left Grand Junction for Fort Collins and the

world of college. I bear-hugged my family and promised to be back

for Thanksgiving, thinking I’d sail through college as easily as

I’d made it through high school. Eager to leave my stifling

hometown, I thought I’d love being independent until turkey time

rolled around. Instead, I got homesick and trekked back to home by

Labor Day.

This time, I’m flying out on half of a round-trip ticket and

won’t come back until December. Though I expect my monolingual self

to be slightly unnerved by the French language and culture awaiting

me in Quebec, I can no longer count on heading home if I freak-out

too much.

Instead of condensing my life into what fits in a midsize sedan,

I’m taking off with two oversized suitcases. Instead of

experiencing a new part of my home state, I’m bound for a brand-new


Getting away from home for CSU changed me, and I know I’ll

change even more now that I am getting even farther away from home.

I’m thrilled to see just what is out there in the big wide world,

but the inevitable inner change both delights and terrifies me.

My three years at CSU have changed me considerably from the

person I was when I entered college, and I’m grateful. Though not

every memory is a happy one, college thus far has been a

mind-expanding experience I wouldn’t trade for the world.

When I showed up in the Fort three years ago, I couldn’t even do

laundry without help. Now that I can separate whites from colors

like a pro, it’s time to get out.

Though some say studying abroad gives students time to slack

because credits transfer but grade point averages don’t, I say it

meshes perfectly with the educational ideology of university

schooling. College is supposed to challenge preconceived notions

and show the importance of thinking critically. Whether consciously

or unconsciously, everyone is guilty of stereotyping others. I

don’t believe it’s possible for anyone to return from substantial

travel with their stereotypes intact.

Over the next four months, I’ll get to know at least a few of

Montreal’s 1.8 million residents and bust a few of my own

stereotypes. Since I haven’t actually left the United States yet,

pretty much all I know about Canada comes from pre-travel

literature and stereotypes formed from others’ stories. This means

my current thoughts of Montreal consist largely of bone-chilling

cold, trendy international film festivals and hockey players with

sexy French accents. All this will start changing the moment I step

off my plane.

Simply by heading up north with an open mind, I’ll come back

with dozens of new thoughts on school, the “real” world and even

what it means to be an American. That is, if I make it through

Labor Day.

Alicia Leonardi is a senior studying journalism and social work.

Her columns will run every other week in the Collegian. She is will

be studying abroad in Canada this fall.

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